Title: It Takes Two to Lie.

Written for: naruto100 on LJ, back in 2005.

Date of Completion: 18/12/05.

Challenge: Proving Something.

Characters: Neji, Tenten.

Bonuses: Tea, closed door.

Word Count: 200 (yes!)

Summary: The consequences of murder and the intricacies of blame. All over tea, of course. (NejiTen, but not.)

oOo

(There's a closed door somewhere in his mind and she holds the key.)

She always hums when she drinks tea, her toes curling ridiculously in pleasure. Neji doesn't want to watch her, but he does anyway, teeth clacking against the ceramic rim of his cup.

(There's a bird in a cage, but the door is open and it doesn't want to fly.)

She looks at him, eyes soft and relaxed in the evening light. There are times when it's almost as if she pretends that she doesn't hold death in her hand, that she isn't a cold machine used for slaughter – maybe she just wants to forget so she can love him?

(But shinobi aren't made for love and the closer she is, the bigger a liability she becomes.)

Tenten tilts her head and, within Neji, the door rattles slightly, assaulted by a wind that threatens to blow it open. Her gaze is questioning, bemused, loving. "Is anything wrong?"

This woman killed a man today. Neji shakes his head and the wind within him stills when her smile fades. "Nothing. Drink your tea – we need to report in."

(Proving that he doesn't love or need her gets harder everyday.)

oOo

Author's Comments:

Ah, reminders of the days when I wrote NejiTen and abused italics.

…wait…one of those is still true.

(Beware: bird and cage metaphors abound. Sorry. Blame it on youth?)